Audi A4 Road Test

First Drive
2017 Audi A4 Continues Its Evolution
New sedan sheds weight, adds power and dual-clutch transmission
Overview
At first glance, the 2017 Audi A4 looks remarkably similar to the outgoing car. But as we've come to expect of Audi, and in particular of the A4, its best-selling model ever, there's considerably more news inside the cabin and under the skin than immediately meets the eye. The ninth-generation A4 has more power, a new transmission, a lighter body, and numerous advanced safety features, plus the availability of Audi's customizable digital instrument panel.

Audi's sweet-and-smooth 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been reworked to produce 252 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, up from 220 and 258, respectively. But instead of the previous pairing of front-drive cars with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and all-wheel-drive versions with an eight-speed automatic, all 2017 Audi A4s will come with the same transmission, a seven-speed dual-clutch setup.

Audi claims the A4's handling has been improved thanks to a redesigned front suspension system, along with "significant weights savings" due to a new, lighter body and aluminum suspension components. The car's standard Audi Drive Select system lets you adjust parameters for transmission shift points and the steering response, as well as for the adjustable suspension and adaptive cruise control, if the car is so optioned.

Impressions
We've complained of the A4's tight rear seating in the past, and to this Audi says the new car has better rear leg room along with increased shoulder and head room up front. A new option for the A4 is a 12.3-inch customizable instrument panel, previously seen on the TT and the 2017 Q7, which can display a large navigation screen in between traditional-looking gauges in the interest of keeping the driver's eyes on the road.

There's still a seven-inch standard or 8.3-inch optional infotainment display on top of the central dash, as well as the option of a full-color head-up display on the windshield.

Of course there's a slew of driver-assistance systems available, including traffic-sign recognition to warn the driver of speed limits, no passing zones, and school zones; an exit assist to warn of a vehicle or cyclist approaching from the rear as you open a door; and a triple-play adaptive cruise control with the ability to control acceleration, braking, and steering below 38 mph.

CR's Take
We'll definitely be looking forward to feeling the thrust of the A4's higher-output engine, but we're also keen to see how much extra space the cabin provides and if the interior controls are easier to decipher.

The 2017 Audi A4 goes on sale in the spring at a starting price of $37,300 for the front-drive Premium model, a $1,400 increase over last year's base car. All-wheel drive starts at $39,400 with the Prestige Quattro topping the lineup at $48,000.

Warranty

All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.

Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.

Basic (years/miles)
3/36

Powertrain (years/miles)
5/60

Rust through (years/miles)
5/Unlimited

Roadside aid (years/miles)
3/36